Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Coda to a Killing: No Justice for Derek Hale

Derek with his wife, Elaine.
The practice of police "accountability" generally consists of using money stolen at gunpoint to buy off victims and survivors of officially sanctioned criminal violence.

Few better examples can be found than the $975,000 settlement paid by the City of Wilmington, Delaware, to Elaine Hale, whose husband Derek was murdered by Wilmington Police on November 6, 2006

The settlement brings to an end a federal lawsuit that was scheduled for trial next July -- more than four years after Derek, a Marine veteran who served two tours in Iraq, was shot three times at point-blank range after being tasered seven times within the space of about a minute. Unarmed and cooperative, Derek was not a criminal suspect and had done nothing to justify arrest, let alone summary execution.

Pay-offs of this kind are part of a ritual of self-exculpation in which the police and the local criminal clique they serve loudly proclaim their complete innocence, even as their cynical actions offer eloquent testimony of their guilt. William S. Montgomery, one of the palace eunuchs who serve Wilmington Mayor James M. Baker, performed his role perfectly.

Serving the Regime that would later kill him: Derek in Iraq.
"We were very confident in our case and know that our officers acted properly and professionally," lied Montgomery in announcing the settlement, which -- as he went on to say -- meant that the supposedly rock-solid case would be spared "the inherent risk of a jury trial." 

Fortunately, Montgomery pointed out, the risk of a trial was "eliminated for less than the cost of defense." 

Through the miracle of socialized municipal risk management, nobody will face accountability for the extra-judicial killing of a 25-year-old husband and father of two stepchildren who had celebrated his first wedding anniversary just days before he was murdered.

Shortly after receiving a medical discharge from the Marine Corps, Derek joined an "outlaw motorcycle club" called the Pagans. In November 2006, Derek and some friends from the club made a run from Virginia to Wilmington as part of a Toys for Tots promotion. Derek didn't know that for more than a year before he joined the club the Pagans were the subject of a Delaware State Police investigation. 

Derek was house-sitting for a friend on the day he was murdered. Sandra Lopez, the soon-to-be ex-wife of Derek's friend, arrived with an 11-year-old son and a 6-year-old daughter early in the afternoon to remove some personal belongings. Derek -- wearing a hooded sweatshirt -- was sitting quietly on the front porch of the home when an unmarked police car and a blacked-out SUV arrived at around 4:00 PM and disgorged a thugscrum of 8-14 heavily armed police. According to eyewitnesses, the officers were dressed in black, and displayed no police insignia of any kind.  
Click to enlarge. Note: Derek was Tasered seven times.

At the time, Lopez and her children were standing behind Derek on the small porch, which was at the top of a short stairway. The armed strangers ordered the woman and her kids to move away from Derek, who by this time had risen to his feet. One of the cops ordered Derek to remove his hands from his sweatshirt. No more than a second or two later, according to eyewitnesses, he was hit with the first of what would be seven Taser strikes.

The Taser blast knocked Derek sideways and sent him into convulsions. His right hand involuntarily shot out of its pocket, clenching spasmodically. Ordered to put his hands up, Derek struggled to comply, but found himself paralyzed. So he was struck with a second Taser blast that drove him to the side and induced him to vomit in a nearby flower bed. 

Not in front of the kids,” Derek pleaded. “Get the kids out of here.”

The officers continued to order Derek to put up his hands; he was physically unable to comply.

So they tased him again. 

And again. 

And again. 

And again. 

And again.

"That's not necessary!" exclaimed eyewitness Howard Mixon, a contractor who had been working nearby. "That's overkill! That's overkill!"

One of the bold and brave paladins of public order swaggered over to Mixon and threatened him: "I'll f*****g show you overkill!" snarled the barely literate tax-feeder. Meanwhile, Derek -- left to wallow in a puddle of his own vomit -- was trying to comply with the demands of his assailants. 

I'm trying to get my hands out,” Derek  gasped, trying to make his tortured and traumatized body obey his will. Horrified, his friend Sandra screamed at the officers: “He is trying to get his hands out, he cannot get his hands out!”

Few things bring out the raw courage of a cop like the sight of an unarmed and defenseless "suspect." Acting with the serene confidence that his victim couldn't harm him, Lt. William Browne of the Wilmington Police Department -- who was close enough to seize and handcuff Derek, if this had been necessary -- shot him at point-blank range, sending three .40-caliber rounds into his chest. 

In May 2007, Delaware Attorney General Beau Biden -- yes, the glorious outpouring of Vice Presidential loins -- issued a report vindicating Browne's actions. The report began by claiming that "the purpose of the Tasering was to overcome Derek Hale's resistance to the arrest so he could be taken into custody without injury to himself or to the officers." 

Leaving aside the fact that the Taser assault caused severe injury to Derek (as a coroner's report later confirmed), and also made it impossible for him to comply with police orders, every eyewitness to the murder who wasn't implicated in the crime insists that the victim never resisted arrest in any way. Furthermore, Thomas Neuberger, one of the attorneys who represented Derek's widow,  pointed out that the Wilmington PD's departmental policy on Taser use does not authorize the use of that reliably lethal weapon on non-resisting suspects. 

Biden's report also claimed that Derek's “menacing” behavior -- which consisted of vomiting into a flowerbed while begging the police to get the kids out of harm's way -- led the timid creature known as William Browne to believe that "he was in immediate danger" and that "the use of deadly force was immediately necessary to prevent serious injury or death" to him or to one of his partners in state-sanctioned crime. 

No charges were filed against the individual who murdered Derek Hale. Shortly after Biden issued his report, Browne was promoted. This infuriating detail was merely filigree on the tapestry of mendacity woven by Delaware's "law enforcement community" to cover up the murder of Derek Hale. 

Derek with step-children Taylor and Garrett.
In the years prior to the anti-Pagan crack-down by the Delaware State Police (DSP), the agency was besieged with lawsuits alleging civil rights violations, and subject to several ongoing corruption probes. 

Attorney Thomas Neuberger told me three years ago that DSP Commander Thomas MacLeish (or "Colonel Tom," to use Neuberger's not-at-all affectionate nickname), who was appointed to his post in 2005, made improving the agency's public image his highest priority. A high-profile campaign against a big, bad biker gang was just the thing to repristinate the department's image. 

The State Police operation eventually yielded a 160-count indictment, much of which was withheld from the public. After prosecutors had cluttered the air with lurid but vague allegations of "racketeering" and "gang activity," thirty-two Pagans were arrested on narcotics and weapons charges. The investigation came to a thoroughly anti-climatic end when a fewer than a half-dozen Pagans were charged with narcotics-related offenses. All of them were given deals that didn't involve prison time.

Like six-year-old Aiyana Jones, who was murdered by police last May in a Detroit SWAT raid staged for TV cameras, and 21-year-old Las Vegas resident Trevon Cole, who was murdered by police (while trying to dispose of a misdemeanor-sized amount of marijuana) in a hotel drug raid that was also the outgrowth of a "reality TV" program, Derek Hale was a casualty of a police PR campaign. He didn't become a "person of interest" until after he had been killed.
Derek's mother.

Immediately after the shooting, the DSP contacted the Virginia State Police and -- in a deliberate act of official perjury -- told them that the murdered Marine was a suspect in a narcotics investigation. Police from Delaware and Virginia barged into the Hale family's Manassas home, shoving aside a grieving wife and two devastated children in order to carry out a charade of a search in the service of an official fiction. 

The architects of this cover-up weren't content to terrorize Hale's devastated widow and step-children; they also traduced the character of the murder victim. 

On November 21, 2006, roughly three weeks after Derek's death, the DSP issued a breathtakingly dishonest press release alleging that the victim had "resisted arrest" and claiming that he "was at the center of a long term narcotics trafficking investigation which is still ongoing." Meanwhile, prosecutors frantically cobbled together the above-mentioned ominum gatherum indictment in the hope that somebody -- anybody -- connected to Derek would be charged with an actual crime. 

Now, three years later, the people responsible for the murder and cover-up have taken care of the final detail by paying off the victim's family at taxpayer expense.

Derek grew up in Cape Girardeau, Missouri. Shortly after he was murdered, a man who had known Derek in his childhood contacted me to express his outrage that a "responsible, respectful" young man of exceptional character could survive two tours of duty in Iraq, only to be slaughtered by a Death Squad here at home.

"There is no way in hell he would have threatened a police posse," Derek's friend told me. "When I saw his obit in the local paper I thought he must have been killed in Iraq or something -- but alas our own home-grown terrorists took the life of an innocent man."

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Dum spiro, pugno!


ncpagan said...

Derek Hale was a friend of mine, and a Brother. This gratuitous killing serves as a metaphor for what is wrong in America.

Anonymous said...

ncpagan, is there any truth to the rumor that Derek knew the cop that murdered him? I'd heard that Browne, the cop, was running around on his wife and Derek Hale knew about it and mentioned it to others in Wilmington. That was Browne's motive for the murder.

Three shots at close range does seem kind of personal.

fironzelle said...

I remember when you originally wrote about Derek Hale. Of all the evil you write about, this was particularly sickening.

Basically I have no more faith in humanity.

Anonymous said...

Will, I remember reading this the first time you wrote about it. Back then I was outraged and now years later I see that the gangstas in blue are moving lockstep as usual. Good thing you pointed out the other killings in Detroit and in Las Vegas. I understand that the Costco killing is something of a farce as well.

liberranter said...

I think I can safely speak for most of your regular readers/posters when I say that this update to Derek Hale's tragic story isn't the least bit surprising. The only thing that even mildly shocks me is that the Delaware State Schweinabteilung took four long years to absolve themselves of this act of premeditated murder. Ordinarily, most chapters of the Fat Blue Line Gang do so within a matter of weeks, if not days.

Just another straw added to the camel's overburdened back...

ncpagan said...

I haven't heard that rumor, but I will look into it.

idahobob said...

And no charges on the JBT's that tazed and murdered him?

It is long past time for some vigilante justice to be handed out to the out of control JBT's in our country.

'nuff said.


GunRights4US said...

I know that if Derik Hale were my son, there is nothing on this earth that would prevent me from taking vengeance in the most spectacular way imaginable. I would make my peace with the Almighty - and proceed to take heads.

Anonymous said...

How long before citizens, wearied by police corruption, abuse and murder, will strike back?

Imagine Brown being sent out to answer some minor call - only to have his head removed at the neck?

kirk said...

What is annotated has become regular fare for those who "protect (their own kind) and serve (their masters in officialdom)" in this FORMER land of the free.

The militarization of cops goes on and on. To what purpose? You all know the answer.

"All that is required for evil to triumph is for good people to do nothing" seems to fit this ongoing spectacle of enforcers run amok.

Anonymous said...

"There is no way in hell he would have threatened a police posse," Derek's friend told me.

Until there are real, personal and immediate consequences for ANYONE who initiates force against others, this will continue.

Just why should thugs in fancy uniforms and badges be exempt?

Lemuel Gulliver said...

The effect of atrocities like this, which are becoming more and more routine in this country as we drift into a police state - our houses violently invaded, our property stolen at gunpoint, our sexual organs groped, photographed nude, tasered for no reason, beaten, or shot dead - and then the perpetrators INVARIABLY lying brazenly through their teeth about what happened, reviewing their own actions and finding themselves blameless, is that when there is real crime, the police are often treated with hostility and hatred, as just another criminal gang persecuting the public, instead of the protectors they are supposed to be. We have been in this condition before, as Mr. Grigg told us in his last post on "vigilantism," but in former times the police did not have assault rifles, tanks, armored cars, machine guns, armed helicopters, and other firepower which these days is being provided to them by the Federal government under pretext of the "war on terror."

Not only that, in the very rare instances when prosecutors can be persuaded to pursue these cases, (prosecutors have their own careers to consider also, which are more important to them than justice or the lives of the public,) and when the Sturmabteilung, Sicherheitsdienst, or Schutzstaffel ARE found guilty, they suffer no consequences. It is their victims themselves, the taxpayers, who have to pay for their defense in court, then when and if they are found guilty and fined, or when the police settle out of court, the taxpayers pick up the often hefty tab for their violent and murderous brutality. The murderers invariably walk away, free to pursue their careers as latter-day Gestapo thugs.

I second GunRights4Us' comment above. Don't these people have annual thug conventions, or annual celebrations of their gorgeousness, where they gather in large numbers? Why should their fun not be spoiled on some such occasion?

I would also include the oligarchs who are served by these thugs. I would find me the most expensive country club in the nation, and on New Year's Eve when hundreds of oligarchs were celebrating the fact that their shit don't stink, I would make sure as many of them as possible never got around to singing "Auld Lang Syne."

One could also visit certain restaurants on Capitol Hill frequented by members of Congress, and ensure that their dinners did not include dessert or coffee.

Those who have ears to hear, let them hear.

OF COURSE, what I am advocating in all these cases is to take the microphone and reason with them about their antisocial tendencies. You understand that, right?

- Lemuel Gulliver.

PS: Like a melon that looks fine on the outside, but when you cut it open it is full of fungus and worms, the Empire is rotting from within. Very soon, it is going to split wide open, and all the stinking pus is going to come gushing out.

Anonymous said...

Too many cops today are cowards. Cowardice has two aspects: reluctance to confront an equal opponent and eagerness to use excessive force against an obviously inferior or out-numbered opponent. Psychology tells us that men with the "authoritarian personality", those who enjoy enforcing petty rules against others, are much more likely to be cowards than other men. Unfortunately, police work attracts just such men. Men who kill puppies and beat grandmothers are cowards, period. Doesn't matter if it is "police procedure" or not; they are still cowards. Maybe if their neighbors and acquaintances point out their cowardice they will be ashamed. Actually, they are ashamed already, a feeling many of them try to dull with excessive violence against the weak. When was the last time a lone police officer took a swing at Mike Tyson? After all, even if he got his butt kicked, he would be a brave man, albeit foolish. Never happens!
Part of the problem is cops the old-timers used to call the "runts", cops hired after size requirements were dropped so women could be hired. I can remember the late 1950s when many cops used to be big and self-confident. Today I dwarf and tower over most of the nervous and angry little mini-cops I meet. I am only 6'1" and 200 pounds!
-Richard Carpenter

liberranter said...

When was the last time a lone police officer took a swing at Mike Tyson?

As you conclude, no such thing will ever happen. How many "civilian" gangbangers ever confront a heavily armed, powerful victim by themselves without backup from their homeboys? The only reason these pathetic, cowardly thugtards become cops in the first place is because the "Fat Blue Line" that gives them both strength in numbers and cover from the State.

I do believe, however, that as conditions continue to deteriorate and the depredations of the Fat Blue Line Gang become more egregious, they're going to lose the advantage of strength in numbers. As more than one person on this blog has pointed out, the federalization of "law enforcement" and the heavy weaponry that said federalization brings to YourTown is only bringing that weaponry that much close to Us the People. It won't be long before wearing a state costume and badge = sleeping with one eye open and looking over your shoulder 24/7.

Anonymous said...

Henry David Thoreau put it best (in Civil Disobedience)...

"The mass of men serve the state thus, not as men mainly, but as machines, with their bodies. They are the standing army, and the militia, jailers, constables, posse comitatus, etc. In most cases there is no free exercise whatever of the judgment or of the moral sense; but they put themselves on a level with wood and earth and stones; and wooden men can perhaps be manufactured that will serve the purpose as well. Such command no more respect than men of straw or a lump of dirt."

The woods and forests of former Soviet republics are full of shallow depressions the length of short men; when the whip hand is broken, those who carry a spear or whisper for the regime find their fellows less-than-sympathetic.



Anonymous said...

There comes a time to feed the hogs - henry bowman